The Reading: Matthew 5:1-10
“Blessed are the meek, for they shall inherit the earth” (v.5) RSV
The promised inheritance of “the earth” (v.5) is slightly problematic. The idea is raised again at the end of the Bible: “and hast made them a kingdom and priests to our God, and they shall reign on earth” (Revelation 5:10). The ‘earth’ that is being referred to seems to belong to “a new heaven and a new earth” (Rev. 21:1), and not so much to the present time.
However, Jesus did promise Peter and the other disciples that those who had forsaken all to follow him would “receive a hundredfold now in this time, houses … and lands … and in the age to come eternal life” (Mark 10:30). God will provide both in this life and the next all that is needful. Anyway, ‘inheriting’ does not necessarily mean possessing!
But whatever is precisely meant by “the earth” we are clearly instructed that it is the “meek” who will inherit it. Entrance to the inheritance is not automatic. Indeed, speaking pictorially, the entrance is low and narrow. Just as the camel could not go through the eye of the needle, so we cannot go through into God’s blessing unless we have ‘shrunk’. The meek have learnt humility (not self-loathing or self-deprecation).
The prime example of meekness was Moses: “Now the man Moses was very meek, more than all men that were on the face of the earth” (Numbers 12:3). Moses was not a mild and mealy-mouthed man. He was strong and courageous. His meekness, like all true meekness, was his dependence on his God, and his obedience or submission to the Lord.
However, meekness does sometimes involve mildness and gentleness. As Paul said: “I … entreat you, by the meekness and gentleness of Christ” (2 Corinthians 10:1). Jesus could be tough and confrontational, but he was humble and lowly of heart, never arrogant and strident – that is meekness.
Grant me a humble and teachable spirit, and teach me to be gentle with others, ‘specially the awkward ones. Amen.
1 Who will not inherit the earth?
2 How does Paul sum up meekness?